Ganache is the standard filling for bonbons and is widely used in all pastry, yet many find it intimidating to make at home. Ganache is actually quite simple to prepare, and can be used in a wide variety of delicious desserts. Here's a step-by-step visual guide to help you along the way. This guide shows you a couple ways to make truffles, but there are also some alternative suggestions at the end if you want to get creative with your ganache.
For making truffles and most other applications, the chocolate-to-cream ratio is about 2:1 for dark chocolate, 2.5:1 for milk and white.
There are a couple different ways to flavor ganache as well: for spices, tea and other aromatics, you'll want to steep those in the cream first. If you're going that route, your first step will be to gently heat your cream with the flavoring, then let it sit for 10 to 20 minutes (depending on what you're using and how strong you want the flavor to be). Then strain the cream and proceed. If you're adding something, just mix it in after the ganache has come together. Do keep in mind that you want to add liquids slowly and a little bit at a time—too much extra liquid, and you risk "breaking" the ganache.
After following the steps below, it's up to you. You can let the balls of ganache set in the fridge and roll them in cocoa powder for a simple but elegant presentation. Or you can temper some chocolate and dip them in that: place a little tempered chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll each chilled ganache ball in it before placing it on another piece of clean wax paper to set.
If you want to get really fancy you can roll it in cocoa powder after it's been dipped in chocolate; and then wow all your friends with your beautiful classic French-style truffles.
Chop your chocolate into half-inch pieces. You don’t have to be exact, but the smaller they are, the quicker they’ll melt. Put them in a bowl that will fit the chocolate plus cream.
Heat your cream in a saucepan until it’s JUST boiling—and no further! Dairy loves to boil over, so watch it closely. I know this is a terrible picture, but bear with me. Steam is troublesome. As soon as small bubbles form around the edges of the pan, take it off the heat.
Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Make sure all the pieces are submerged (if your bowl looks like this, just take a spoon and push the protruding bits of chocolate under the cream). Wait five minutes for the chocolate to melt. Impatience can cause premature stirring and produce a lumpy ganache.
Start stirring in the middle of the bowl. You can use a whisk or a small spatula—just keep in mind that you’re not whipping air into the mixture, you’re just helping it come together. Be gentle!
The mixture will start to become glossy in the middle around the stirring utensil—this is what you want to happen. Continue to stir gently, and stay in the middle of the bowl. The rest of the mixture will follow suit. Keep the faith.
Hooray! Your ganache is smooth, glossy and completely mixed.
It should have a pudding-like consistency after it’s thoroughly mixed and slightly cooled.
Now you can flavor it with something (if you didn’t steep the cream beforehand). I chose Calvados (because it is delicious) but you can add anything from fruit puree to peanut butter.
When adding liquid flavorings, start small—too much liquid can break the ganache. Add it in bit by bit. If the ganache breaks, don’t panic. It can be saved! (See Troubleshooting section of the article.)
Stir in the flavoring the same way you started mixing the ganache—gently, and staying in the middle of the bowl. Once the flavoring is incorporated, let the ganache set up until it has a pudding-like consistency.
Now figure out what you’re going to use it for! If you’re going to make truffles and want to pipe your ganache, set up a pastry bag or Ziploc-type bag in a measuring cup or quart-sized takeout container, like so—folding the edges over the lip of the container. This makes it easier to get the ganache into the bag without a massive mess.
Use a spatula or spoon to transfer the ganache into the bag.
Snip the tip off of the bag with sharp scissors (take off less than you think you should—you can always cut more).
Pipe small “kisses” onto waxed or parchment paper. Piping like this makes it easier to have consistently sized truffles, if that’s important to you. (It’s OK if it’s not.)
They will look adorable. You can pop them in the fridge for a bit and then quickly hand-roll them into uniform balls.
Alternatively, you can just put the entire bowl of ganache in the fridge for 10 to 15 minutes and use a clean, warmed spoon to carve out bits of ganache that you can hand-roll. Have a bowl of warm water nearby to clean the spoon in between scoops.
Roll the ganache into quarter-sized balls—quickly now! Hands are warm and will melt ganache sooner than you think.
If your ganache breaks, you'll know it—it will take on a curdled appearance as the fat and liquid separate. Don't fret! Simply heat a couple tablespoons more cream or milk and add it bit by bit while stirring until it comes back together.
What to Do with Your Ganache
- Use it to fill sandwich cookies
- Heat it and serve it over ice cream or fresh fruit
- Whip it with a hand mixer and use it to frost a cake
- Eat it straight-up with a spoon
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